Scrap metal recycling yard appeals refusal of permission to retain site

An Bord Pleanála overturned council’s temporary planning permission following an objection

A scrap metal recycling company has secured High Court permission to challenge An Bord Pleanála's refusal for retention of its waste facility near Dublin Airport.

St Margaret's Recycling and Transfer Centre Limited received temporary permission, subject to conditions, from Fingal County Council to process 24,000 tonnes of waste each year at its Sandyhill centre.

This was overturned upon an appeal by an objector to An Bord Pleanála, while St Margaret's appealed over three conditions imposed, including the licence's three-year expiration date.

On the application of Neil Steen SC, Ms Justice Siobhán Phelan granted leave to the company, with an address in Sandyhill, to pursue its action seeking an order overturning the board’s December 2021 refusal to grant retention permission.

She would not be willing to grant a temporary stay on the decision while only the applicant was represented in court and she directed that An Bord Pleanála be notified of any future stay application.

In a sworn statement, St Margaret’s director, Brian McDonnell, said there is no other facility in the locality that can accept various materials it processes. Mr McDonnell said some €6 million has been invested in machinery and facilities, while 30 employees are based on site.

Without a stay on the board’s refusal, pending the outcome of the proceedings, there is a risk the company could go out of business, he said.

Mr McDonnell acknowledged a prosecution was brought against the company in 2017 pursuant the European Communities (Shipments of Hazardous Waste Exclusively within Ireland) Regulations 2011, but he said that case was struck out without conviction. Another prosecution was initiated against it in 2021 under the Waste Management Act 1996 and stands adjourned until next month, he said.

Appropriate use

In documents before the court, St Margaret’s alleges the board failed to adequately consider that the proposed continuation of use of the facility is consistent with the aspirations of the Fingal Waste Management Plan.

It said the facility is an appropriate land use and the grant of permission would be generally in accordance with the local development plan, with any requested alteration of the existing use being “minor and/or not significant”.

Further, among the facility’s complaints is a claim the inspector appears to have judged the issue of intensification of use against circumstances that did not actually relate to the relevant time. The inspector ignored or failed to adequately consider that, from 1998 to 2021, the facility had lawfully accepted significantly greater quantities of waste 10,000 tonnes per annum, it is claimed.

St Margaret’s also submits the board “erred in fact and in law” in concluding that insufficient information had been submitted to enable it to assess the likely impacts of the development on the environment and protected European sites.

St Margaret’s claims inadequate consideration was given to the history of the activity on the site which, together with other materials supplied, provided “compelling evidence” no such effects would arise.

Ellen O'Riordan

Ellen O'Riordan

Ellen O'Riordan is an Irish Times reporter